Will E-readers save publishers?Reuters
Publishers hoping to halt a slide in sales with new electronic reading devices will struggle to get consumers to embrace them until the technology improves, experts say.
The gadgets -- such as Amazon.com Inc's Kindle and Barnes & Noble Inc's new US$259 Nook -- have created an enormous buzz in the publishing world and marketers hope they will become popular Christmas gifts.
In some respects the new devices still compare unfavorably to the tactile experience of the printed page and lack multiple functions of more advanced technology such as smartphones, industry experts say.
Joe Wikert of O'Reilly Media Inc, a publishing company and media consultant firm, said e-readers are mostly "one-trick ponies," an extra device with only one function, in contrast to multifaceted products such as Apple Inc's iPhone.
So far, e-readers mostly provide "static reproductions of the print version," minus the advantages of hard-copy books that readers have grown accustomed to over the years, such as easily being able to pass a book on to a friend, Wikert said. The Nook, however, lets users share books.
Still, 2009 sales of e-readers are expected to reach 3 million units, according to Forrester Research.
Newer devices can store thousands of easily downloadable books at a time and allow access to certain websites, newspapers and magazines.
The full report at Fairfax Media online.